Daggers drawn in Shots' best week of seasonBy Jon Couch
October 30, 2012
DEAN HOLDSWORTH reflected on his best week of the season so far as Aldershot Town rallied to four points on the road to help lift the Halloween spirits around the EBB Stadium.
The Shots followed up their 2-1 success at Southend United last Tuesday night with a hard-fought 0-0 draw just down the road at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, to all but confirm their escape from the doldrums of a seven-game losing run.
Holdsworth's men battled hard amid the driving rain and even sleet at a freezing cold Victoria Road to record a first clean sheet in nine matches and keep their recovery from a club record slump on track.
But it could have been even better for the Shots had Danny Hylton not seen his lob over keeper Chris Lewington drift agonisingly wide, while the keeper also kept out Michael Rankine's volley with a brave diving save.
"It was always going to be a tough game," a satisfied Holdsworth surmised. "Dagenham are very direct and the conditions played a part in the game.
"We could have won this game but four points in a week from where we have been - yeah, I'm pretty happy with that.
"It's incredible, the last two matches has made a massive difference in the players' belief and confidence. There is still more to come but this has been the best week we have had this season so far."
Unsurprisingly, Holdsworth selected an unchanged team from the one which rediscovered the winning formula at Southend four days previous, but the boss was to suffer a massive blow even before a ball had been kicked when top scorer Craig Reid pulled up with a knee injury, thus handing Adam Mekki a last-minute call-up to the side.
The Daggers, lying four points ahead of the Shots in the lower reaches of the League 2 table, set their stall early on with long balls pumped up to target man Sam Williams, but the Shots defence, marshalled by the excellent Sonny Bradley and Troy Brown, were equal to everything.
Indeed a well-matched contest ensued, albeit bereft of quality until Matt Saunders popped up 35 yards out with a volleyed effort which looped over keeper Jamie Young but onto the top of the crossbar and over.
Mekki and Hylton both tested Lewington with half chances in the opening period, but it was after the interval that the Shots showed more of a threat.
Eleven minutes into the restart, Anthony Tonkin's long ball over the top came off the head of Scott Doe sending Hylton clean through.
The homegrown striker bore down on goal and delicately lifted the ball over the advancing keeper only to see his effort bounce just the wrong side of the post to the agony of the 331 Shots fans behind the goal.
Then Hylton broke clear again, this time down the left, taking a pass from Mekki and whipping a deep cross towards Rankine on the far post, but his volleyed effort was blocked by the sprawling body of Lewington, who could not have known much about it.
Dagenham, however, remained a threat and not for the first time this season Aldershot were grateful to the heroics of keeper Young in keeping out Dwight Gayle's effort from a tight angle with his legs.
The fact Holdsworth finished the game with the same starting line-up demonstrated the tension in the Shots' dugout, so the boss was mightily relieved to come away with a point.
"I couldn't make any changes during the game as it was such an intense match," he added. "It is not often I don't make changes but there was nothing broken to change and maybe I am learning to be a bit more patient.
"A touch of quality could have won the match but they earned their clean sheet and it was a good point away from home."
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Tonkin, Morris, Brown, Bradley, Vincenti, Rose, Mekki, Hylton, Rankine. Subs: G Morris, Rodman, Payne, Branston, Donnelly, Munns.
Ref: A Woolmer. Att: 1,770 (331 Shots).